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Development. 1992 Aug;115(4):999-1009.

Relationship between Wnt-1 and En-2 expression domains during early development of normal and ectopic met-mesencephalon.

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INSERM U106, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


Grafting a met-mesencephalic portion of neural tube from a 9.5-day mouse embryo into the prosencephalon of a 2-day chick embryo results in the induction of chick En-2 (ChickEn) expression in cells in contact with the graft (Martinez et al., 1991). In this paper we investigate the possibility of Wnt-1 being one of the factors involved in En-2 induction. Since Wnt-1 and En-2 expression patterns have been described as diverging during development of the met-mesencephalic region, we first compared Wnt-1 and En-2 expression in this domain by in situ hybridization in mouse embryos after embryonic day 8.5. A ring of Wnt-1-expressing cells is detected encircling the neural tube in the met-mesencephalic region at least until day 12.5. This ring consistently overlapped with the En-2 expression domain, and corresponds to the position of this latter gene's maximal expression. We subsequently studied ChickEn ectopic induction in chick embryos grafted with various portions of met-mesencephalon. When the graft originated from the level of the Wnt-1-positive ring, ChickEn induction was observed in 71% of embryos, and in these cases correlated with Wnt-1 expression in the grafted tissue. In contrast, this percentage dropped significantly when the graft was taken from more rostral or caudal parts of the mesencephalic vesicle. Taken together, these results are compatible with a prolonged role of Wnt-1 in the specification and/or development of the met-mesencephalic region, and show that Wnt-1 could be directly or indirectly involved in the regulation of En-2 expression around the Wnt-1-positive ring during this time. We also provide data on the position of the Wnt-1-positive ring relative to anatomical boundaries in the neural tube, which suggest a more general role for the Wnt-1 protein as a positional signal involved in organizing the met-mesencephalic domain.

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